Google and Social Networking

Until now, Google has been trying to identify efficient advertising solutions for social media.

And rightfully so.

Social media has become the premier medium for communication and media, and over the past few years, Google has arguably become the face of the internet.

So Google figuring out the social networking issue is a logical and expected event. The only question is, what would such a solution look like?

In a recent BusinessWeek article, Heather Green discusses such a solution:

“Say there’s a group of basketball fans who spend a lot of time checking out each other’s pages. Their profiles probably indicate that they enjoy the sport. In addition, some might sign up for a Kobe Bryant fan group or leave remarks on each others’ pages about recent games they played or watched. Using today’s standard advertising methods, a company such as Nike (NKE) would pay Google to place a display ad on a fan’s page or show a “sponsored link” when somebody searches for basketball-related news. With influence-tracking, Google could follow this group of fans’ shared interests more closely, see which other fan communities they interact with, and—most important—learn which members get the most attention when they update profiles or post pictures.”  

While the above excerpt may not be completely reflective of Google’s new, soon to be, patented technology for “ranking the most influential people on social networking sites”, the basic premise can be understood, with the premise being:

Peopleactionsinterests, ENGAGEMENT and INTERACTION are the most important aspects of social networking sites.

Can a company, whose core technology is based on search, truly harness the power of engagement and interaction? Possibly (and if anyone can do it, Google will).

Can a company, whose core technology is based on engagement, truly harness the power of engagement and interaction? Most definitely (and if anyone has been doing it, it has been Lotame).

NOTE: This article can also be found @ the Lotame Blog

Free Market Economy

Not in one anymore.

Consider this: This is the first time in my lifetime, as well as the lifetimes of everyone in my generation, that we are experiencing something very, very BIG (financially)…or as Warren Buffet put it…

“We are facing financial Pearl Harbor”

The real effects or magnitude of this situation are still incomprehensible to me.

Once this bailout officially goes through, which it will, the financial industry will never be the same. The private sector will never truly be private (at least not for a while), and a socialist economy will begin to take shape. 

Individuals with real ingenuity and innovation in the financial markets, along with strong ethical and moral values will spark new oppurtunities and blaze a path that will hopefully bring us back to that free market.

These heroes will most likely come from my generation, and hopefully, they will not succumb to exploitation tactics in search of quick riches. 

I hope those heroes come sooner, and I hope those heroes make their way to leadership positions within our government.

I was curious to see what the markets looked like from the year I was born (1985) until today. Below is a snapshot that displays General Motors, S&P 500, Nasdaq, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1999-present day.

No analysis here. Too busy contemplating the future.

Something Called Validation

Two years ago I co-founded a website specifically designed for college students. The site:

(Check out my site before continuing to read the rest of the post…or look below. You will understand why)

 

CampusAtlas
CampusAtlas
CampusLive
CampusLive

Today, I see the following article in :

2008 Finalists: America’s Best Young Entrepreneurs

CampusLIVE 

CampusLIVE

Jeff Cassidy, 23; Boris Revsin, 22; Jared Stenquist, 23
www.campuslive.com
Amherst, Mass.

Will college students use a Web site devoted to helping them find campus services and local businesses? CampusLIVE cofounder Jared Stenquist thinks so. About a year and a half ago, the self-taught Web developer started the site as a hobby in his University of Massachusetts Amherst dorm room. When advertisers started to contact him, he took a leave of absence to develop the business.

The site can now be customized for 18 campuses around the country, including the University of Vermont, University of Connecticut, and George Mason University. Stenquist, who isn’t planning on going back to school, says the business, which employs five full-timers as well as interns, had just over $100,000 in revenues in 2007 and is negotiating a $1.25 million seed round with a group of angel investors. He expects it to be profitable by January.

Besides the fact that their site looks exactly like TheCampusAtlas, and besides the fact that they started after TheCampusAtlas did, the fact that BusinessWeek considers the idea worthy, is validation

Validation that our insight into a market need actually existed, and validation that the need could be executed in a successful manner.

While I congratulate the Campus Live team, I also congratulate the other founders of The Campus Atlas

Stay tuned for the future of The Campus Atlas.

Generativity of Social Networking Sites and Their Accountability

Jonathan Zittrain defines Generativity in the following manner:

“Generativity is a system’s capacity to produce unanticipated change through unfiltered contributions from broad and varied audiences”

Jonathan Zittrain, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It

In reality, this description somewhat defines the nature of a social networking sites. If you look at social networking sites today, users are able to participate in 3 ways, all of which contribute to the generative nature of a social network: Users are able to:

  1. Generate self identifying content (their profile, blog, homepage)
  2. Generate and consume bi-directional content (messaging, statuses)
  3. Generate and consume multi-directional content (groups, discussion boards, forums)

These three methods of participation allow the internet and social networking sites to grow at the staggering rate they are today. However, as these sites grow, keeping the content organized so that it remains relevant and meaningful to the user, becomes increasingly difficult. This issue is more prominent in the third method, as users are able to impact the entire network in a single instance.

Take for example the Groups feature. A single user can create a group made available to the entire network. That’s fine. But what happens when multiple users create the same group? An overlap occurs, and what should have been a single meaningful group, now becomes one group of many just like it.

Today, I joined my University of Wisconsin – Madison group as I am a recent alumni. There were about 3-4 identical groups? Do I join them all? The same scenario applied to many of the groups I wanted to join.

The generative nature of social networks allow for more noise, and enables users to disrupt the very social graph they create, making the networks more complex and less meaningful. Other people recognize the growing occurrence of this noise, and ironically enough, have used the same generative nature of social networks to maintain strong connections, content, and a healthy social graph (see Triiibes).

About six weeks ago, I joined Seth Godin’s social network called Triiibes (which he created using a white-box social network: Ning). The network was only made available to those that made an early purchase for his new book. As a result, the content and communication in the network is much stronger and meaningful then I’ve seen on any other network.

As social networks grow, they must look to sites like Wikipedia for guidance. They must learn how to keep the network connected using only meaningful and unique data points.

(Jonathan Zittrain’s book is a good read for anyone interested in technology and communications, and their inevitable effects on society)